Museum of Fine Arts Bern

Kunstmuseum Bern
Established 1879
Location 8-12 Hodler Street
Bern, Switzerland
Type Art museum
Director Dr. Matthias Frehner
Website Museum of Fine Arts Berne

The Museum of Fine Arts Bern (German: Kunstmuseum Bern), established in 1879 in Bern, the capital of Switzerland, is the oldest art museum in Switzerland with a permanent collection.

Its holdings run from the Middle Ages to the present. It houses works by Paul Klee, Pablo Picasso, Ferdinand Hodler, Meret Oppenheim and Ricco Wassmer. The collection consists of over 3,000 paintings and sculptures as well as 48,000 drawings, prints, photographs, videos and films.

In May 2014, the museum, much to its surprise, was named sole heir in the will of Cornelius Gurlitt, a German with whom it had had no prior contact. [1] The estate comprised more than 1,400 artworks found in the 2012 Munich artworks discovery, many of them stolen from European Jews by the Nazis, together with several dozen paintings kept in Gurlitt's home in Salzburg, also of questionable origin. The museum was given six months to decide whether it would accept the bequest and its terms.[2] The most important proviso required that the museum conduct research into the provenance of the paintings and make restitution where needed to the heirs of the original owners. The museum director, Matthias Frehner, pledged that it would do so if it accepted the bequest.[3] The German government quietly urged the museum to accept the collection in order to provide a neutral place where research into its history could continue. (There was concern that if the collection were dispersed among Gurlitt's distant relatives, there would be no guarantee that they would conduct the research properly.) Determining whether or not to accept required much deliberation on the part of the museum board, work by its legal team, and significant fundraising from Swiss donors, so that the museum would not be reliant on German funding that could taint the neutrality of the provenance research.[4] In November 2014 the board voted to accept the collection.[5]


  1. "Press Release". 7 May 2014. Retrieved 17 March 2016.; "'Nazi art' hoarder Gurlitt makes Swiss museum sole heir". BBC News. 7 May 2014. Retrieved 7 May 2014.; Reuters and AP (7 May 2014). "Le Musée des beaux-arts de Berne légataire du « trésor nazi » de Cornelius Gurlitt". Le Monde. Retrieved 18 March 2016.
  2. "Possible Rodin and Degas works found at Gurlitt home". BBC. 24 July 2014. Retrieved 24 July 2014.
  3. Lane, Mary M. (November 20, 2014). "Swiss Museum Close to Accepting Trove of Nazi Art". The Wall Street Journal, p. A12. Retrieved 13 March 2016.
  4. Lane, p. A12.
  5. "Swiss museum to accept Gurlitt 'Nazi art'". BBC News. 24 November 2014. Retrieved 29 April 2016.
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Coordinates: 46°57′04″N 7°26′36″E / 46.9511°N 7.4434°E / 46.9511; 7.4434

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